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MCH8399 : Dissertation in Media and Society (Research)

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joss Hands
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 3 Credit Value: 60
ECTS Credits: 30.0


• To enable students to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a selected topic in the field of Media & Society
• To enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the research process by devising and conducting an original investigation in the field of Media & Society
• To provide students with the opportunity both to extend their repertoire of methodological skills and to demonstrate a capacity for critical reflexivity
• To heighten students’ awareness of the dilemmas encountered when undertaking research in this field of study and ability to address them.

The module provides the student with experience of undertaking a substantial, independent textual, theoretical or empirical enquiry into an approved topic relating to the subject-matter of the programme. The dissertation provides invaluable experience of undertaking research and acts as a sound foundation for students who may wish to undertake a PhD after completing the MA. The module entitled ‘Dissertation Preparation’ performs the crucial role of supporting the Dissertation by guiding the students in their decision about the topic, methodology, scope and planning of the Dissertation. When the students embark on their dissertation in the third semester, they are asked to a) revise their research proposal in the light of feedback on the Methodologies module, b) produce a literature search or equivalent, and c) produce a 12,000-15,000-word completed dissertation.

In these ways, students are carefully guided within the implementation of their aim of conducting a detailed exploration of a specific area, problem or issue within the field of study. Students are expected to support this exploration by independent study and research activity through the following: retrieval of information, location of evidence, analysis, interpretation and synthesis of materials, critical thought and evaluation, questioning of assumptions and, where appropriate, relating theory to practice.

The research is to be presented in the form of a conventional dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words. The approval of dissertation topics will be subject to the agreement of the module leader and relevant tutor.

Members of the programme team will assist students both in the initial stages of identifying a suitable dissertation topic for themselves and during the period when the dissertation is being researched and written. The programme team will offer additional advice on appropriate research methods and provide students with feedback on drafts of their dissertation. Guidance will be provided throughout by an individual supervisor allocated to the student according to the topic and theme of the dissertation.
All dissertations, irrespective of format or topic, will be expected to conform to the following requirements:
• The dissertation will draw upon primary or secondary data to address the research question (or questions)
• The research will be appropriately contextualised with critical reference made to relevant published sources
• An appraisal of the theoretical underpinnings of the research will be undertaken
• A reflexive commentary on research methods will be provided and the strengths and limitations of the design discussed
• The ethical issues raised by the research will explored
• The findings will be reported in an unambiguous and transparent manner
• The discussion will include reference to the practical implications of the findings as well as indicating possible future lines of enquiry

Outline Of Syllabus

The programme team will assist students in negotiating an appropriate title. Support and guidance on topic, focus and methodology will be provided on the module, ‘Dissertation Preparation’. The outline of the syllabus is as follows:

1. 1 x 2-hour introductory lecture
2. 3 x 1-hour group interactive sessions: Devising and planning a research project
3. Regular meetings on a one-to-one basis with supervisor

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00On-campus. Can be delivered online if necessary
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00On-campus. Can be delivered online. Initial consultation with module leader and supervisor.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1590:00590:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision51:005:00Supervision on campus. Can be delivered online if necessary.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The initial consultation and small-group sessions are intended to combine initial information sharing and opportunities for reflection on question design, research methods, ethics and literature review, followed by one-to-one support during the process of dissertation writing. These relate to the support and development of increasingly independent study, that will facilitate intended knowledge outcomes, and to develop both cognitive skills and key skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation3M10012,000 to 15,000 word research-based dissertation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module is initially introduced with a lecture and 3 small-group interactive workshop sessions. These will enable the students to explore issues of common concern relating to research design, methods and the conduct of their planned enquiries (including ethics). These will include formative written tasks designed to aid the research and writing process. These sessions are expected to facilitate development of cognitive and key skills, and to give feedback to the student. These initial sessions, together with subsequent supervisory tutorials, will provide a full complement of support in the preparation and completion of the dissertation, which fulfils the assessment of this module as the independent research-led element of the MA.

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